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tv   Asia Insight  PBS  August 19, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm PDT

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♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ [ speaking foreign language ] >> in january 2015, vietnam revised its marriage and family law and effectively allowed same-sex marriage by abolishing a clause that had previously made it prohibited. ♪ ♪ the revision is a complete 180-degree turn in a country where gay people could be fined
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for getting wed in the past. [ speaking foreign language ] >> big gay travel companies and they advertise more and more to promote vietnam as a gay destination. >> in this episode of asia insight, we see how vietnam is changing its values and gradually integrating gay people into its society. >> ho chi minh city is one of the largest metropolises in southeast asia and is at the heart of vietnam's economy.
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it beats the capital hanoi as the wealthiest city and is a magnet for workers all over the country. in the past five years alone, the population has increased by almost 800,000. the city has come a long way since the end of the vietnam war 40 years ago. we asked locals what they feel about the recent revision in the same-sex marriage law. [ speaking foreign language ]
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[ speaking foreign language ] >> located on the edge of ho chi minh's business and shopping district is a famous cafe and bar which is popular with the gay community. papa cafe first opened 16 years ago. at around 11:00 a.m., office workers from the area drop by. they come for the tasty and reasonably priced lunches. during the day, there are very few gay customers.
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it's also a favorite lunch time place for families from nearby residential areas. ♪ the cafe's owner nguyen used to be a regular customer and bought the store from the original owner. the cafe started offering lunch eight years ago. [ speaking foreign language ]
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at 7:00 p.m., papa cafe opens for the night. [ laughter ] >> tucked away in a back street, it looks completely different
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from the afternoon. gay people come from all over ho chi minh city. ♪ ♪ on business nights, more than 100 customers drop by. papa cafe originally opened as a regular bar, but it eventually became a haven through word of mouth, for ho chi minh's gay community. ♪ the inconspicuous location, the interior design and the music they play helped make the bar popular. it's earned a reputation as an establishment that welcomes gay customers. customers can feel at ease. they sing karaoke and chat with friends until closing time at midnight.
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[ speaking foreign language ]
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>> southeast asian nations in general tend to have a strong intolerance towards gay people. even seemingly liberal thailand has not legalized gay marriage. vietnam became the first southeast asian nation to evthively allow gay marriage. it used to treat it as a sin on par with crime and prostitution. so it's a significant change of
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direction. [ speaking foreign language ]
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>> vietnam has decided to include its gay citizens in its society. but at the same time, the government doesn't offer gay couples the same legal protection as they would heterosexual couples. still, the gay community has more freedom now to be more open than before.
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this video was uploaded online soon after the law was revised. the cooperation of a vietnamese airline made it possible. it showed a same-sex wedding at an altitude of 10,000 meters. here are the brides to be. they gave their vows in front of unknowing passengers who just happened to be on the same flight. [ speaking foreign language ]
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♪ ♪ >> the couple now lives in a quiet residential area in western ho chi minh city. as a gift, their parents bought them a luxury apartment. together, they picked every piece of furniture in the spacious residence. they first met online 13 years ago and began exchanging e-mails, but linh didn't come out for about six months and
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lied about her gender, because being a lesbian was so ta boo at the time. when they met face to face, linh disclosed that she was a woman. she was extremely surprised, but later accepted everything. [ speaking foreign language ]
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>> both sets of parents have now changed their feelings. their shame has gone. and they approve of their daughters' marriage. [ speaking foreign language ] ♪ ♪
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>> thanks to the legal revision, they were encouraged to have an open wedding. more and more gay couples are doing the same and getting married publicly. this wedding planning company has actively been offering services for gay couples. [ speaking foreign language ] phung used to work at an event planning agency. to fulfill his dream of helping people become happy, he became a wedding planner four years ago. so far he's organized weddings for more than 100 couples.
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[ speaking foreign language ] >> the couple want to have their wedding at a famous luxury hotel and invite more than 50 guests. [ speaking foreign language ]
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>> they want gay couples to be treated no differently to heterosexuals and have the freedom to have their dream weddings wherever they like. but he said many hotels and restaurants still reject them. he's hoping to create more possibilities for venues and eventually change people's attitudes. >> this well known district of ho chi minh city is lined with
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reasonably priced accommodation and local eateries. it attracts travelers and backpackers from around the world. the pink tulip hotel opened here two years ago. both gay and straight visitors are welcome to stay. ♪ ♪ the rainbow flag on their sign shows their openness to lgbt people. the flag was first used in the u.s. in the 1970s and can now be seen around the world. around 60% of the hotel's guests are gay.
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dutchman omni is the owner. he first came to vietnam ten years ago while working as a flight attendant and immediately fell in love with the country. he quit his job and invested all his savings and retirement funds into the hotel. >> a twin single room. >> a standard twin single room measures about 30 square meters and comes with an ensuite bathroom. it costs about $30 u.s. a night. [ speaking foreign language ] >> i think it will be, it's already like compared with to years ago, already more, and it
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will be more. now you see nowadays, they changed the law. i think it was 40 or 50% that gay people came to vietnam. people start to know it now as a gay friendly destination. and the big -- more, bigger tour companies, they also advertise. like to get married, gay travel companies, and they advertise more and more as vietnam is gay friendly destination. >> we opened in 2001. the first country in the world.
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and i always, um, wanted to help to open the marriage. and we tried to promote a gay business association so we can organize and talk about what we want, what we want to change, and that we have a chain of if you travel in vietnam, stay here in the hotel, i want to go to another place, and there you have a gay friendly hotel, you can stay there. so it's a little bit more organized. >> anne said he wants to expand his business network in vietnam and eventually build a chain of gay friendly businesses in southeast asia.
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♪ ♪ >> the l & g beer club used to cater mostly to gay men. but the new owner nguyen purchased it a year ago and re-opened it as a place specifically for lesbians and bisexuals. establishments such as this, targeting gay women are rare in ho chi minh city. [ speaking foreign language ]
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>> it's been two months since linh and foon had their wedding ceremony on an airplane. their life as a newly married couple has just begun. [ speaking foreign language ]
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>> meanwhile, papa cafe bustles with its usual throng of lunch time diners. [ speaking foreign language ] [ speaking foreign language ]
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>> a lot. i think at the moment, most of the guests are from australia. >> australia? >> yes. and europe, also america. still too early for gay only, but it is growing. people start to know the hotel more and more. >> where are you from? which country? >> sweden. in sweden we have snow. >> oh. [ indiscernible ] >> when you go there you can find --
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>> where are you from? >> i'm from holland. people think that gay hotels might be different. this is gay friendly. it's mixed. you have families, you have tourists, straight people, gay people. but you can be who you want. so that's very nice to be in a hotel like this. >> the revision of the marriage and family law is changing the values of vietnamese people. and is creating new business opportunities. vietnam could lead the way as a gay friendly nation for the rest of southeast asia.
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police obtained anrrest warrant on wednesday for an unidentified suspect and released a sketch of the man. they say he took a motorcycle taxi from a


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